“What is the fundamental virtue to be cultivated in order to prepare for the spiritual life?”
I have said this many times, but this is an opportunity to repeat it: it is sincerity.
A sincerity which must become total and absolute, for sincerity alone is your protection on the spiritual path. If you are not sincere, at the very next step you are sure to fall and break your head. All kinds of forces, wills, influences, entities are there, on the look-out for the least little rift in this sincerity and they immediately rush in through that rift and begin to throw you into confusion.
Therefore, before doing anything, beginning anything, trying anything, be sure first of all that you are not only as sincere as you can be, but have the intention of becoming still more so.
For that is your only protection.
1 August 1956
Fundamentally, whatever be the path one follows — whether the path of surrender, consecration, knowledge — if one wants it to be perfect, it is always equally difficult, and there is but one way, one only, I know of only one: that is perfect sincerity, but perfect sincerity!
Do you know what perfect sincerity is?…
Never to try to deceive oneself, never let any part of the being try to find out a way of convincing the others, never to explain favourably what one does in order to have an excuse for what one wants to do, never to close one’s eyes when something is unpleasant, never to let anything pass, telling oneself, “That is not important, next time it will be better.”
Oh! it is very difficult. Just try for one hour and you will see how very difficult it is. Only one hour, to be totally, absolutely sincere. To let nothing pass. That is, all one does, all one feels, all one thinks, all one wants, is exclusively the Divine.
“I want nothing but the Divine, I think of nothing but the Divine, I do nothing but what will lead me to the Divine, I love nothing but the Divine.”
Try — try, just to see, try for half an hour, you will see how difficult it is! And during that time take great care that there isn’t a part of the vital or a part of the mind or a part of the physical being nicely hidden there, at the back, so that you don’t see it (Mother hides her hands behind her back) and don’t notice that it is not collaborating — sitting quietly there so that you don’t unearth it… it says nothing, but it does not change, it hides itself. How many such parts! How many parts hide themselves! You put them in your pocket because you don’t want to see them or else they get behind your back and sit there well-hidden, right in the middle of your back, so as not to be seen. When you go there with your torch — your torch of sincerity — you ferret out all the corners, everywhere, all the small corners which do not consent, the things which say “No” or those which do not move: “I am not going to budge. I am glued to this place of mine and nothing will make me move.”… You have a torch there with you, and you flash it upon the thing, upon everything. You will see there are many of them there, behind your back, well stuck.
Try, just for an hour, try!
12 May 1954
“The question is to be sincere. If you are not sincere, do not begin Yoga.” (The Mother)
Sincerity is perhaps the most difficult of all things and perhaps it is also the most effective.
If you have perfect sincerity, you are sure of victory. It is infinitely difficult. Sincerity consists in making all the elements of the being, all the movements (whether outer or inner), all the parts of the being, all of them, have one single will to belong to the Divine, to live only for the Divine, to will only what the Divine wills, to express only the divine Will, to have no other source of energy than that of the Divine.
And you find that there is not a day, not an hour, not a minute when you do not need to intensify, rectify your sincerity — a total refusal to deceive the Divine. The first thing is not to deceive oneself. One knows one cannot deceive the Divine; even the cleverest of the Asuras cannot deceive the Divine. But even when one has understood that, one sees that quite often in one’s life, in the course of the day, one tries to deceive oneself without even knowing it, spontaneously and almost automatically. One always gives favourable explanations for all that one does, for one’s words, for one’s acts. That is what happens first. I am not speaking of obvious things like quarrelling and saying, “It is the other one’s fault”, I am speaking of the very tiny things of daily life.[…]
I tell you: If you are sincere in all the elements of your being, to the very cells of your body and if your whole being integrally wants the Divine, you are sure of victory but for nothing less than that. That is what I call being sincere.
25 March 1953
One must be truly sincere, truly.
One must be ready, if there is something which is clinging, clinging tightly, one must be ready to tear it away completely, without its leaving any trace behind. This is why at times one makes the same mistake and repeats it, until the suffering is sufficiently great to impose a total sincerity. One must not try that method, it is bad. It is bad because it destroys many things, it wastes much energy, spreads bad vibrations. But if one can’t do otherwise, well, in the intensity of suffering one can find the will for perfect sincerity.
And there is a moment — in everyone’s life there is a moment — when this need for perfect sincerity comes as a definitive choice. There is a moment in one’s individual life, also a moment in the collective life when one belongs to a group, a moment when the choice must be made, when the purification must be done. Sometimes this becomes very serious, it is almost a question of life and death for the group: it must make a decisive progress… if it wants to survive.
26 May 1954
What should be done?… Be sincere.
That’s it; always, always, the little worm in the fruit. One tells oneself, “Oh! I can’t.” It is not true; if one wanted, one could.
And there are people who tell me, “I don’t have the will-power.” That means you are not sincere. For sincerity is an infinitely more powerful force than all the wills in the world. It can change anything whatever in the twinkling of an eye; it takes hold of it, grips it, pulls it out — and then it’s over.
But you close your eyes, you find excuses for yourself.
The problem recurs all the time.
It comes back because you don’t pull it out completely. What you do is, you cut the branch, so it grows again.
It takes different forms.
Yes. Well, you have to take it out every time it comes, that’s all — until it doesn’t come back any more.
We have spoken about it, where was it?… Oh! it was in Lights on Yoga, I think. You push the thing down from one part of your consciousness into another; and you push it down again and then it goes into the subconscient, and after that, if you are not vigilant, you think it is finished, and later from there it shows its face. And next, even when you push it out from the subconscient, it goes down into the inconscient; and there too, then, you must run after it to find it.
But there comes a time when it is over.
Only, one is always in too great a hurry, one wants it to be over very quickly. When one has made an effort, “Oh! well, I made an effort, now I should get the reward for my effort.”
In fact, it is because there is not that joy of progress. The joy of progress imagines that even if you have realised the goal you have put before you — take the goal we have in view: if we realise the supramental life, the supramental consciousness — well, this joy of progress says, “Oh! but this will be only a stage in the eternity of time. After this there will be something else, and then after that another and yet another, and always one will have to go further.” And that is what fills you with joy. While the idea, “Ah! now I can sit down, it is finished, I have realised my goal, I am going to enjoy what I have done”, Oh, how dull it is! Immediately one becomes old and stunted.
The definition of youth: we can say that youth is constant growth and perpetual progress — the growth of capacities, possibilities, of the field of action and range of consciousness, and progress in the working out of details.
Naturally, someone told me, “So one is no longer young when one stops growing?” I said, “Of course, I don’t imagine that one grows perpetually! But one can grow in another way than purely physically.”
That is to say, in human life there are successive periods. As you go forward, something comes to an end in one form, and it changes its form…. Naturally, at present, we come to the top of the ladder and come down again; but that’s really a shame, it shouldn’t be like that, it’s a bad habit. But when we have finished growing up, when we have reached a height we could consider as that which expresses us best, we can transform this force for growth into a force which will perfect our body, make it stronger and stronger, more and more healthy, with an ever greater power of resistance, and we shall practise physical training in order to become a model of physical beauty. And then, at the same time, we shall slowly begin and seek the perfection of character, of consciousness, knowledge, powers, and finally of the divine Realisation in its fullness of the marvellously good and true, and of His perfect Love.
There you are. And this must be continuous. And when a certain level of consciousness has been reached, when this consciousness has been realised in the material world and you have transformed the material world in the image of this consciousness, well, you will climb yet one more rung and go to another consciousness — and you will begin again. Voilà.
But this is not for lazy folk. It’s for people who like progress. Not for those who come and say, “Oh! I have worked hard in my life, now I want to rest, will you please give me a place in the Ashram?” I tell them, “Not here. This is not a place for rest because you have worked hard, this is a place for working even harder than before.” So, formerly, I used to send them to Ramana Maharshi: “Go there, you will enter into meditation and you will get rest.” Now it is not possible, so I send them to the Himalayas; I tell them,“Go and sit before the eternal snows! That will do you good.”
11 January 1956
Is it possible for a human being to be perfectly sincere?[…] Is there a mental sincerity, a vital sincerity, a physical sincerity? What is the difference between these sincerities?
Naturally, the principle of sincerity is the same everywhere, but its working is different according to the states of being. As for the first question, one could simply answer: No, not if man remains what he is. But he has the possibility of transforming himself sufficiently to become perfectly sincere.
To begin with, it must be said that sincerity is progressive, and as the being progresses and develops, as the universe unfolds in the becoming, sincerity too must go on perfecting itself endlessly. Every halt in that development necessarily changes the sincerity of yesterday into the insincerity of tomorrow.
To be perfectly sincere it is indispensable not to have any preference, any desire, any attraction, any dislike, any sympathy or antipathy, any attachment, any repulsion. One must have a total, integral vision of things, in which everything is in its place and one has the same attitude towards all things: the attitude of true vision. This programme is obviously very difficult for a human being to realise. Unless he has decided to divinise himself, it seems almost impossible that he could be free from all these contraries within him. And yet, so long as one carries them in himself, one cannot be perfectly sincere. Automatically the mental, the vital and even the physical working is falsified. I am emphasising the physical, for even the working of the senses is warped: one does not see, hear, taste, feel things as they are in reality as long as one has a preference. So long as there are things which please you and others which don’t, so long as you are attracted by certain things and repulsed by others, you cannot see things in their reality; you see them through your reaction, your preference or your repulsion. The senses are instruments which get out of order, in the same way as sensations, feelings and thoughts. Therefore, to be sure of what you see, what you feel, what you experience and think, you must have a complete detachment; and this is obviously not an easy task. But until then your perception cannot be wholly true, and so it is not sincere.
Naturally, this is the maximum. There are crass insincerities which everybody understands and which, I believe, it is not necessary to dwell upon, as for example, saying one thing and thinking another, pretending that you are doing one thing and doing another, expressing a wish which is not your real wish. I am not even speaking of the absolutely glaring lie which consists in saying something different from the fact, but even that diplomatic way of acting which consists in doing things with the idea of obtaining a certain result, in saying something and expecting it to have a certain effect; every combination of this kind which naturally makes you contradict yourself, is a kind of insincerity gross enough for everybody to easily recognise.
But there are others more subtle which are difficult to discern. For instance, so long as you have sympathies and antipathies, quite naturally and as it were spontaneously you will have a favourable perception of what is sympathetic to you and an unfavourable perception of what — or whom — you dislike. And there too the lack of sincerity will be flagrant. However, you may deceive yourself and not perceive that you are being insincere. Then in that case, you have, as it were, the collaboration of mental insincerity. For it is true that there are insincerities of slightly different types according to the state of being or the parts of the being. Only, the origin of these insincerities is always a similar movement arising from desire and the seeking of personal ends — from egoism, from the combination of all the limitations arising from egoism and all the deformations arising from desire.
In fact, as long as the ego is there, one cannot say that a being is perfectly sincere, even though he is striving to become sincere. One must pass beyond the ego, give oneself up totally to the divine Will, surrender without reserve and without calculation… then one can be perfectly sincere, but not before.
That does not mean that one should not make an effort to be more sincere than one is, saying to oneself, “All right, I shall wait for my ego to disappear in order to be sincere”, because one may reverse the terms and say that if you do not try sincerely your ego will never disappear. Therefore, sincerity is the basis of all true realisation, it is the means, the path — and it is also the goal. Without it you are sure to make innumerable blunders and you have constantly to redress the harm you have done to yourself and to others.
There is, besides, a marvellous joy in being sincere. Every act of sincerity carries in itself its own reward: the feeling of purification, of soaring upwards, of the liberation one gets when one has rejected even one tiny particle of falsehood.
Sincerity is the safeguard, the protection, the guide, and finally the transforming power.
19 December 1956
The only thing that is truly effective is the change of consciousness; it is the inner liberation through an intimate, constant union, absolute and inevitable, with the vibration of the supramental forces. The preoccupation of every second, the will of all the elements of the being, the aspiration of the entire being, including all the cells of the body, is this union with the supramental forces, the divine forces. And there is no longer any need at all to be preoccupied with what the consequences will be. What has to be in the play of the universal forces and their manifestation will be, quite naturally, spontaneously, automatically, there is no need to be preoccupied with it. The only thing that matters is the constant, total, complete contact — constant, yes, constant — with the Force, the Light, the Truth, the Power, and that ineffable delight of the supramental consciousness.
That is sincerity. All the rest is an imitation, it is almost a part one plays for oneself.
Perfect purity is to be, to be ever more and more, in a self-perfecting becoming. One must never pretend that one is: one must be, spontaneously.
This is sincerity.
12 June 1957
The sage Ramana Maharshi had his ashram in Tiruvannamalai, about one hundred kilometers from Pondicherry. He passed away in 1950.